New Graphic Interface Designs for News

Many people (recently, Editor & Publisher Magazine columnist Steve Outing) have written about how news Web sites need better graphical layouts. Most of those layouts date back to the early days of the Web, when designers were attempting to replicate printed page page designs in online media. I’ve long thought that a second wave in interactive layout design is overdue and that these second wave designs won’t be based upon print.

Precursors are appearing. Click the graphic above to see one. Newsmap is a single page that visually lays out all the major stories on Google News in real-time. It presents them along seven horizontal bands: one each for international, national, business, technology, sports, entertainment, and health news. The amount of a story’s space within its band denotes the story’s importance.

Many news publishers have complained that traditional Web site designs don’t allow all stories to be shown a single page. But Newsmap’s ‘treemap visualization algorithm’ layout can. Is it a perfect concept? No, just as traditional Web designs aren’t perfect. Some of the headlines on Newsmap are too small to read (which is why the design also uses rollover popups). Yet, it’s a brilliant concept — a Web single page that graphically displays all major stories of the day, according to each story’s importance.

Although the graphic above is linked to a U.S. version of Newsmap, Australian, Canadian, French, German, Indian, Italian, New Zealand, Spanish, and United Kingdom versions are available from there.

[My thanks to Barry Paar for alerting me about Newsmap.]